Jul 12th 2017 | Posted in Opportunities by Kristin Gordon

Has your city of county ever applied for a government grant? Most grants can be used either immediately or over the long term. This includes local street improvement projects and programs to attract business development to depressed sections of a city or town.

Funding is available in a variety of categories that include science and technology, energy, transportation, health, agriculture, food and nutrition, environment, natural resources, housing, regional and community development, business and commerce, social services, education, legal services, cultural affairs, employment and training, consumer protection, and disaster prevention and relief.

Grant funding is appropriated annually by Congress, and the programs are listed in the Catalog of Domestic Federal Assistance and the Federal Register.  Grants are administered by several cabinet-level agencies, including the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Transportation and Homeland Security.

Nonprofits, government agencies, businesses and individuals all pursue grant money. Grants can provide resources when a project is not self-supporting, to test a new idea, or to reach customers who otherwise could not afford products or services. It can take the pressure off a budget, but why are they not the right answer for everyone?

approved 29149 960 720 Government grants are financial awards that stimulate economy, provide funding assistanceThere is no doubt that federal and state grants are necessary for the survival of most municipalities. Excluding automatic, formula-based awards, many of the largest federal grants are highly competitive. You vie with entities across the country, each with as compelling a case as your own. If you are selected, not only do your coffers benefit, but your reputation as well.

Since nothing worthwhile comes easy, government grants do have their drawbacks. The applications are often lengthy, multi-page documents that require detailed statistics and metrics. Once a grant is awarded, there are financial reports that must be maintained, often for a period of years. Many government grants require matching funds, which is a hurdle for applicants who have budget shortfalls to begin with.

With funding from three grant programs, it was announced Friday that $32 million in maritime- and boating-related grants will be awarded to benefit boating recreation and tourism by improving boating infrastructure, keeping water clean for anglers, and preserving maritime heritage and inland waterways, according to a July 7 release by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The national funding came via the Boating Infrastructure Grant program for $14.7 million, the Clean Vessel Act program in the amount of $15.4 million and Maritime Heritage Grants totaling $1.7 million. Here are the totals that were awarded.

Ulster County is one of six municipalities statewide to make it to the final round of the Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition, which is intended to encourage government consolidation and efficiencies. The prize is a $20 million grant to implement the proposals outlined in the applications. It would cost about $6 million to create a new 911 center to replace the existing facility. The county would build a county fire training center for $2 million and would combine a highway and public works building for the town and village of Saugerties for $2.5 million.

In November 2016, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition for local governments to build consortiums and compete for a $20 million award. Under the program, teams of two or more local governments will submit plans demonstrating how government consolidations and innovative restructuring initiatives will yield reductions in property taxes. A panel selected by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado will pick the winning consortium and plan.

In Minnesota, the Winona County Courthouse will be one of 57 throughout the state receiving grants for courthouse improvements. The Minnesota Judicial Branch announced the award of $1 million in grants through the Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative at the end of June. The county had received its full request of $13,000 for a new metal detector. Across the state, grant awards ranged from $514 to nearly $68,000. Of the 57 grants, 13 were for less than $5,000, and eight were for more than $25,000. The law also requires that each county provides a 50 percent funding match for its grant award in either cash or in-kind services. Other counties received funding security training for officials and staff, plus a variety of infrastructure improvements like installing bullet-resistant glass at public service counters, replacing aging security equipment and adding door locks, cameras, key card readers and alarms.

According to the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Agency will award $335.3 million in airport infrastructure grants to a total of 237 U.S. airports in July, including $32.5 million in discretionary spending to five airports. Some of the larger grants will go to Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina. The airport will receive $14.6 million in Airport Improvement Plan (AIP) grants for the rehabilitation of runway 18R/36L, taxiway rehabilitation and runway safety area improvement. Orange County Airport in New York will receive $14.6 million in discretionary grant funding to realign an existing runway, a parallel taxiway and connector taxiways. MGJ is a general aviation airport approximately 60 miles from New York City that serves corporate business jets and local general aviation. The El Paso International Airport in Texas will receive $11.6 million in AIP grants to reconstruct runway 04/22. The Los Angeles International Airport in California will receive $11 million in discretionary funds to construct Taxiway T, which will connect the north and south runway complexes, and to construct the east and west aircraft parking aprons at the Tom Bradley International Terminal building.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program, which will make approximately $1.5 billion available to projects that are in line with the Administration’s principles to help rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure. INFRA advances a pre-existing grant program established in the FAST Act of 2015 and utilizes updated criteria to evaluate projects to align them with national and regional economic vitality goals and to leverage additional non-federal funding. The new program will increase the impact of projects by leveraging capital and allowing innovation in the project delivery and permitting processes, including public-private partnerships. Applicants may resubmit their previous FASTLANE application, but must explain how the project competitively addresses the improved INFRA Grant criteria. According to the DOT, the notice of funding opportunity will remain open until Nov. 2.

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